Gingerly by Monique-Adelle Callahan

I have made nothing of myself.
I have gone on this long, spilling
water into half-full cisterns,
proceeding with caution along a road
somewhere where blue rivers
and white streams run along through a damp
echoing forest and the smell of wood
burns out from a cast-iron stove
and into the night like a giant sigh of breath,
as it does from my grandmother’s cabin
where she sits and looks out
the window with the cobalt blue glasses
lining the sill, and her hair is white fire
ablaze on her head.
Everyone is content here.
No one needs my water. I want to go back
and collect it, to fill at least one cistern
and carry it back to her, triumphantly,
with a bold stagger into the living
room, the weight of my living water
sloshing and jumping from the spicy tremor
of my body’s steadying itself. I want
to bring her something I have done.
No, I want to bring her someone
I have loved. Time is winding up, I see it
in her hair and in her knuckles
that look like the path I’ve taken
through this life, that look like ginger
root, dried up and knotted like the way
my heart has been those times
when I needed it most.
Monique-Adelle Callahan is an assistant professor of English at Emmanuel College. Her poems have been published or are scheduled to appear in OVS Magazine, TORCH, The Healing Muse, Touch: the Journal of Healing and Stone Highway Review. She has received writing fellowships from Callaloo and Cave Canem.